(or how to move onto a sailboat)
With the advent of our 50th birthdays came the usual sorts of life evaluations that one goes through. At what have I succeeded? What contributions have I made? What do I have left that I want to do before I die? Living on the water was high on both our lists.
For any who share the dream, and for our family members who might not understand, this is our story. We don't know where it will take us, but welcome along for the ride!
Our neighbor's flag and wind generator are both getting a workout
A long time ago, right after we
got married, Deb and I moved to Kansas. I had never been in the vast
midwest before and it was a bit disorientating for someone from the
hills and ridges of the Allegheny Mountains. As we drove toward
Wichita I remember thinking the horizon was impossibly far away and
that there was something wrong with the trees. They were all growing
with a noticeable lean. When I asked, a native told me it was the
relentless wind that was bending them over. I don't think I believed
the story at first, wind blowing the trees sideways. Someone, I
thought, was pulling on my eastern-bred leg. Soon enough, I discovered
there was no kidding involved. Sometimes the wind was blisteringly
hot. Sometimes it drove the cold directly into my bones. Occasionally
it would get itself all twisted up into a tornado and scour the
earth down to bare dirt. Rare were the days when it didn't blow at
all. I don't know that I ever got used to it though, I must admit,
learning to fly there made me better than average at handling crosswind landings.
It seems like Kansans and
sailors should have more words for wind, like the Inuit language and
snow. Which got me curious. It turns out thesaurus.com lists 22
synonyms for “wind”. Working our way down the ICW too late in the
year left us exposed to a North American version of a mistral or two.
Right now Boot Key is in a bit of a blow, gusts and flurries swinging
the boats around and straining the anchor rode. I would be pretty
happy with a few wafting and fluttering winds, but those might not be
enough to keep the no-see-ems at bay when the sun goes down. A zephyr
usually leaves behind a wish for a little more, as do puffs and
whiffs and whisks. Boot Key is a bit too far east to get a chinook. It is curious that “cyclone”, “typhoon” and “tempest”
are considered synonyms for wind, but not “hurricane”. I hope to
avoid all of them. I could do without a “whirlwind” as well.
A sailor is more likely to use
“draft” and “draught” as a noun for “beer”, not a synonym
for wind. In addition, “draft” seems more like an inside wind,
not an outside wind. I still don't feel like I'm “inside” when I
am inside a boat. Under cover maybe, behind a wind break, but never
“inside”. Maybe that changes if the boat is bigger?
The Beaufort scale always seemed
like a good way to describe wind in ways that are really useful.
These last few days have seen Force 5 and 6 winds here in Boot Key,
but without fetch the sea state is more Force 2 or 3. But, try as I
might, I haven't been able to forge the habit of thinking of winds
that way. Maybe I should try harder. Force 6 is a “strong breeze”,
a lot more livable than “The wind is freaking howling.” Which has
been how I have been thinking of the wind these last couple of days.
Mr Beaufort tends toward understatement; not a bad thing at all.
Someone needs to set up a “wind
in the rigging” scale, or maybe tag it on to Mr. Beaufort's effort.
A moan that sounds like a sad ghost looking for a place to rest?
Nothing to worry about, Force 4. The mean-sounding moan of a ghost
looking for a head to collect? Force 6, maybe 7. Take in a reef or
make sure the anchor is set hard, maybe lay out a little more scope.
A shriek that freezes the blood as the hordes spill out of the pit
looking for the hapless? Time to get deadly serious in managing the
boat or, if the boat is already on a dock, time to be somewhere else
and let the insurance company worry about the boat. The goal is to
remain deadly serious, and not just dead.
The palm trees are dancing hard in the wind. The water is incredibly murky here.
By the end of the week the winds
should ease up enough for Kintala to be under way once again. It is
hard not to think of it as the “last leg”, as we are getting near
to sitting still for the better part of a year. We will be tied to a
dock in a well protected boat yard, the winds inconsequential unless
a hurricane targets the Tampa Bay area. Beaufort's scale of winds and waves will be replaced by the boatyard's "making the customer happy" scale. That scale is one I know pretty well from my days of when the customers were CEOs, CFOs, and COOs. Which, given the cost of some of the boats the yard sees, is likely to be the case once again. Those winds I know how to handle.